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SBD/October 16, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NHL Lockout, Day 31: League Hires Top GOP Strategist To Conduct Focus Group
Published October 16, 2012
SAVING FACE: In L.A., Helene Elliott wrote the Deadspin report is "fascinating and frightening at the same time." Elliott: "Apparently the league is concerned that it has been losing the public relations battle and it's eager to position itself as sympathetic and willing to make sacrifices and position the players as divided and led by uncompromising executives such as Donald Fehr." The study's finding that Daly "is perceived in a far more positive light than Bettman is viewed explains why Daly has been the league's spokesman for much of the process" (LATIMES.com, 10/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote, "I actually read it as a positive sign that we're going to get meaningful talks on the big issues soon, as the NHL is attempting to ascertain how public opinion could weight on the players depending on the timing or contents of a League offer." Wyshynski: "Clearly, the NHL still feels like there's a chance to break the union by playing up a schism between the players and Fehr" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Sean Gordon writes some of Luntz’ focus group conclusions “are more obvious than others.” The Deadspin report indicates that “attendees broadly had a higher opinion of the owners than they did of the players at the end of the exercise.” Gordon: “Interesting that the league would go to such lengths to try and craft their spin” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/16).
UNFORTUNATE IMAGE CHOICE: DEADSPIN's Petchesky noted one of the questions in the focus group was, "Which of the following images make you miss hockey the most?" Sample images included a fight involving the late Derek Boogaard (DEADSPIN.com, 10/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Wyshynski wrote, "Perhaps, next time, the Luntz Group can find a fighting photo that doesn't feature a dead player" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15). CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits wrote the Boogaard "gaffe" is "just an awful oversight." The "irony is the damage that it does to the NHL's public relations perception when the entire goal of the focus group is to improve its public relations perception." The "real revelation is the NHL might be sweating it out a bit right now." Stubits: "I would be surprised if the NHLPA has not conducted one of its own." But that the league "hired the biggest name in the business and essentially did it like a shotgun wedding must say something." The "tenor of the questions makes you wonder, too" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/15).